EssaysFeatureImaginal PoliticsLiberal Democracy in QuestionPsyche

Psychoanalysis, Democracy, Desire

Anyone passingly familiar with the history of psychoanalysis knows that the field has occupied an embattled, marginalized, often indeterminate identity, and that its survival has often seemed precarious. Yet it is from this perch on the margins of culture and community that psychoanalysis speaks. By channeling a vortex of unconscious and conscious energies, it gives voice to raw, novel, free associations. In fact, because it speaks, and because it hails listening and speaking as the medium for therapeutic action (as “the talking cure”) psychoanalysis is powerfully relevant, even essential, to our personal and collective development. It sets in motion (as Lacan, by means of Bruce Finkwould frame it)[i] “‘a dialectic of desire,’…[desire] set free of the fixation inherent in demand.” 

Psychoanalysis achieves its results through a remarkably human, non-technological practice of talking freely, of free association.  …

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EssaysFeatureIn Depth

The Death Stops Here: The Death and Resurrection of Daniel Berrigan

Fidgety and a little bored in the crammed pews of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, my eight-year-old son waited with us for the service to begin. For distraction and readiness, he etched on his program, with his parents’ help: “Today we reflect on the life of Daniel Berrigan. He was a great priest, prophet, poet and peacemaker. He touched many lives with his actions and words. It is nice to be in such a beautiful church with so many people honoring a man they loved.” Simple and true, these words presaged a ceremony that edified and even transformed the two thousand or so people blessed to have been there. The death on April 30 of the 94-year-old Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J. at a Jesuit infirmary in New York City has been big news. Heartfelt obituaries have poured forth: from fellow priest and political troublemaker John Dear; from the rogue Washington Post columnist Coleman McCarthy, …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

Resisting Acts of Resistance

Precarious citizenship against the militarized police

In Brazil, police officers are rarely held accountable for murderous attacks on citizens. Whenever a member of the police shoots someone, the agent responsible can easily claim that he was counteracting resistance. An “act of resistance” is then written and immediately filed. This institutional and legal justification — which needs only to be unilaterally asserted by the agent — automatically exempts the police from any kind of formal responsibility, ultimately limiting the possibility of an official investigation.The fact that these acts of resistance most often concern a specific population — black poor youth from peripheral areas who are nevertheless formally protected by civil rights — poses the question of how control and repression of different people within the homogenous category of citizenship can vary. Even though they are fully recognized as Brazilian citizens, and thus entitled to all rights formally guaranteed by the state, …

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EssaysFeatureSex & Gender

Social Constructs: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

There was a time, not so long ago, when men were men and women were women, when hetero-normativity prevailed, with the alternatives relegated to the margins, in closets, and in the shadows of lesbian and homosexual hidden locales, which were constantly under attack. Under such conditions, two sociologists explored the constitution of sex and gender: Harold Garfinkel, in his illuminating ethnomethodological study of sexuality, a case study of “Agnes,” and Erving Goffman, in his nuanced analysis of gender advertisements. Neither had a normative or political agenda. Both were careful observers of social life, and came to their specific insights as part of their overall intellectual projects: Garfinkel in his studies of the active way common sense is constituted and sustained, and Goffman in his studies of the drama in social order. …

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CapitalismEssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

The Shifting Class Politics of the Democratic Party

The battle for the presidential nomination has exposed ideological and class fault lines within the Democratic Party. The opposition to Hillary Clinton’s position on trade and other economic issues reveal the sense among many registered Democrats that the Party establishment has abandoned their economic concerns. The shift in the class interests of the Party has not been a sudden one, precipitated by the Trans-Pacific Partnership or even NAFTA, but part of a longer story of transformation, a shift of the Democratic base away from its roots in the labor union halls in northern cities and toward white-collar tech workers in the suburbs and gentrified enclaves of major metropolises. Since the 1960s, suburban knowledge professionals and high-tech corporations have supplanted urban ethnics and labor unions as the party’s core constituency. …

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